Monday, May 20, 2013

The Texas Ironman

I love a good race.  Be it a marathon, a bike race, or a triathlon, the atmosphere is infectious and almost everyone is always there for a good time.  This past weekend I voyaged to Houston to see my brother run the Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas Triathlon.  Two days later and I'm still hoarse from screaming.

Now, for the uninitiated, all triathlons are not created equal.  You swim, then bike, then run, but there are different types classified by distance.  This biggies are Sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman, and Ironman.  Here's how they break down:

  • Sprint - .5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 5k run
  • Olympic - 1.5 kilometres swim, 40 kilometres bike, 10 k run
  • Half-Ironman - 1.2 miles swim, 56 miles ride, 13.1 mile run
  • Ironman - 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a full 26.2 mile marathon run
The Ironman, as far as I can tell from having watched one, is pure insanity.  The mettle it takes to push your body that far for that long blows me away.  My brother began at the mass start, 7 AM.  He crossed the finish line sometime around 10 PM, meaning for nearly 15 hours he was on the course pushing himself the next step forward.  As an exercise in sheer willpower, I've never seen anything remotely like it.

Spectator face!  Also "about to take a nap" face.
Now, one of my favorite parts of any running-oriented race is that usually the competitors' names are on their bibs.  So we the fans, in encouragement can be heard at a corner yelling our best encouragement to each person.  "ENGAGE BEAST MODE KATHERINE!"  "YOU LOOK GREAT JOE, YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!"  You high five them, encourage people you see flagging - the energy of the crowd helps propel the event along.

The Marathon was held along the canal in the backround.
For this race, the marathon portion was done in laps of 8-ish miles, and at particular corners you could see them as they came and went.  I camped out at one of these spots for my brother and every time he came along me and the family were there hollering our finest encouragement.  My favorite moment was on his last lap as he passed me he shouted "SEE YOU AT THE FINISH!"  So much pride.

After long, long hours of watching the triathletes suffer I saw my brother come up the hill to the finish line.  Smiling, high fiving, I saw him become an Ironman.  And believe me when I say, that is a title anyone who can finish that madness deserves.

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