I am totally ironed out.
I spent Sunday on the Ironman Wisconsin course to watch my athletes in action. Saturday night we packed up the van and headed up to Madtown. This was our first overnight trip with the baby. If you have not traveled with your infant yet consider packing the car about a week ahead of time because that’s how long it takes to get everything together. One swing, one chair, stroller, car seat, three blankets, four onesies, socks, toys, breast pump, two pacifiers. Did we forget anything? Oh yeah – somewhere in all of that we also packed a 7-week old baby!
I’m sure there is a consensus out there that we are completely nuts for bringing an infant to Ironman. But the show must go on. Coaching is my job. And Ironman is my work day. It’s like the annual nondenominationalnonholiday holiday party at the workplace. Except much longer and much more fun. But still everyone looks drunk by the end. And someone is bound to make a complete ass of themselves (like those guys who get really bitter on the second loop of the marathon and start snipping at the spectators….WHY do they do this!?).
We decided to start the day with breakfast. I can’t not eat while breastfeeding. Ok, I can’t stop eating while breastfeeding. You may say this is why you still have not lost any weight, Elizabeth. To that I say – PIPE DOWN. The day really started before the day actually started. Max was up at 12:45 am, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am and well why don’t we just start we day already MOM! I started the day feeling like I had already done an Ironman!
After breakfast, we headed over to the Helix. For the love of god, people, I HAVE A STROLLER LET ME THROUGH! What I’ve learned in the past few weeks is that when you are pregnant, people hold doors for you. When you have a stroller or a carseat, people wait for you to hold the door for them. I’m not sure if it’s stroller envy/hatred or the attitude that if you pushed that kid out you can damn well push your way through a crowd of 10,000 people…but getting that stroller to the Helix was the hardest workout we’ve done in a long time.
On to the Helix to cheer for everyone. I love this part of the race. Everyone is so fresh and optimistic. The day is young. The feet don’t hurt yet. Aunt Jennifer held a very well-behaved Max while also sassing off to anyone telling her to move back (when will people learn that you don’t mouth off to a woman who is brave enough to walk around in pink with a pink phone and pink even on her shoes).
After the Helix, we headed out to Midtown for the hill. We found the same spot we spectated last year – except this year, the crops rotated. Soybeans, no corn. For the Midwesterners out there, you know what I mean. And you know that you cannot duck behind the soybean to take care of business. Which means I held it for over four hours. There were no epic chain failures, crashes, like NASCAR I was waiting for SOMEthing! It was just a bunch of fit people riding up the hill. Who told them all about a compact crank? I wanted to at least see a dropped chain or a crank fall off! The best entertainment I got was when Chris put the bullhorn up to Max’s mouth while he was cooing. It was like baby goo goo gaga in surround sound.
After the hill, we made our way to State Street and parked ourselves by Chipotle. This is my favorite spot – it’s about mile 6 and mile 19. You get a good view of what Chris calls “the bell curve of pain.” Everyone feels like a rockstar around mile 6. That’s not always the case at mile 19. I watched my athletes run by and helped troubleshoot many problems. My answer to most was – more salt tabs! Whether you’re puking or bloated, it’s usually a matter of electrolytes. I also fed Max about a dozen times. Nothing like breastfeeding your child on a street curb. I was a little freaked out when some VERY drunk college kid sat down next to me. I am NOT feeding you too, kid! I have to draw the line somewhere.
Shortly thereafter he passed out on the curb.
Last year, some guy stopped during the race and told me I looked hot. This year, two athletes stopped to tell me my baby was adorable. Oh, how life changes. We turned that little slice of curb on State Street into our makeshift nursery; we changed diapers, fed Max, let him barf up milk and watched him sleep. I was impressed by all of the athletes on the run course but more impressed by my kid. No meltdowns, no crying. He ate, he slept, he pooped. He was the perfect spectathlete.
I started losing steam in my iron around 7 pm. I was getting dizzy from looking for faces and honestly if someone threw one more cup at me I was going to throw back. My feet were aching and my hands were salty. Not from my own sweat. Ew. We headed back to the capital and watched the halfway point of the run when I pronounced myself ironed out.
And how iron-ic that before that we had walked by a guy on the side of the street with an ironing board and two irons.
We headed back home and there was a tired in my body I had never felt. Three hours of sleep, on my feet shouting all day and knowing that I would be up a lot of the night. Perhaps new mothers can back me up when I say that there are times I fear the night – because I know that going to sleep won’t last. But it was all worth it – both the having the baby thing and watching the Ironman. In fact, both are similar. Both sound like a good idea at the time. Both cost a lot of time and money. Both change your life. You know it’s going to be hard but not until you are actually doing it do you realize what hard is. There is a pain in your legs during Ironman that you cannot replicate in training nor that you’ll ever forget. There is a fatigue in your body when you have a baby that you have never felt before. Yet somehow you get through it, you find the strength to make it through another mile or another sleepless night and after awhile the pain or fatigue just becomes the norm. Either you block it out enough or you just adapt.
Or your definition of pain or fatigue changes.
Someone asked me the most inspirational thing I saw yesterday. I can think of a lot of things that inspired me. There’s the blind athlete (or how about the guy who races with the blind athlete), there's Charisa who ran into 5th pro in her rookie year, there’s my athlete Kara who crashed bad on the bike only to get up and run a 3:40 marathon, there’s Erika from the Ironman group who finished the race after crashing on the bike so bad that she went to get stitches after the race was over, there’s Lore who finished the race with a broken foot, there’s countless stories like that of athletes digging deep and overcoming obstacles that would shut most people down. Most athletes quit Ironman not because of true physical pain but because they give up from fear of the pain or fear of themselves. It’s the ones who triumph past that with true confidence and grit that inspire me.
I’ve been inspired. Many times over. I’m excited to get back into training to chase after my own goals. So, to all of you who swam, biked and ran by me yesterday – thank you. You’ve become my inspiration. And to my athletes who raced yesterday, I'm damn proud to have watched you chase your iron dreams.
And to the streets and sanitation department of Madison – I’d approach the curb across from Chipotle with a pair of gloves and a HazMat suit. Over 5 hours there with a baby and you don’t know what was left behind.