Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ironman Chattanooga from the Other Side

   This post is probably going to be one long stream of consciousness. Sorry. My brain is too fried at the moment to create an organized post.  Just go with it.
   Sunday a few of us (Kathy, Bree and Ashley) headed down to Chattanooga for IMCHOO. Though I have cheered at triathlons before, the four previous Ironman-branded races I've been to (Augusta 70.3 twice, Chattanooga 70.3, IMCHOO) have all been from the participant side, not the sidelines. I was looking forward to seeing how the race was from the other side - the spectator side. And while it was a lot of fun, it was completely exhausting. Seriously. Exhausting.
   We started our spectating adventure at the top of the last hill on the bike course. We figured that we would be able to catch all of our friends right when they needed a boost the most. Bree had her spectating on-point and brought costumes, a white board with markers, and a bullhorn. Because what good is cheering people on if they don't notice us, right? We yelled and cheered for every cyclist that rode by. We were really enthusiastic for the first hour or so, and tried to think of clever things to yell at everyone. But really, there are only so many ways to cheer someone up a hill, especially if you don't know the person. It's kind of a "Go person with the yellow shoes! Go yellow shoes!" Lame, but at least the person in the yellow shoes knew we were talking about him. I want to say we were out there four hours. By the end, we were all sitting or kneeling while we were yelling. Bree actually laid down for a while. God love her, she was still working that bullhorn.

Top: Left - our badass friend Meg, Right - Mike (another badass)
Bottom left - me looking like an angry protester yelling at Mike, Kathy cheering
Bottom right - Tired Bree still giving it her best. (Photos by Ashley)

   After all of our friends passed, we headed to downtown Chattanooga for the run course. We set up camp right before the split on the course that either leads you to the second lap, or to the finish line. Again, we yelled for everyone that passed by. It was so much easier to cheer for the runners than the cyclists. Part of it was because they had their names on their bibs, so you could actually cheer by using their names, but also there were a ton of other spectators and it was easy to build off of their energy.
   Again, we waited until we saw all of our friends at least once, and then headed back to Nashville. All of us had to work the next day, so we couldn't stay at watch everyone finish. Honestly, I'm not sure how I would have made it to midnight anyway. I was so freaking tired. I loved it, but it was exhausting.
   Now here is kind of where the stream of consciousness comes in. It was kind of weird not participating in the event that took up the majority of my mental and physical energy last year. I wasn't sad exactly, but I guess I was a little bummed that a year had already passed from when I did my race. It started last Friday when I finally took down the remaining decorations that had been hanging in my office from when my co-workers decorated it after my race last year. My epic event is now a year in the past, and I kind of feel like it has less meaning now. Which is completely stupid, I know, but I never claimed to be completely rational. My friend Kim, aka The Blonde Mule, did a similar post about this in reference to her race at Augusta 70.3, so I know I'm not alone in feeling like this.
   But what is even weirder is that even with these feelings, I had NO DESIRE to be racing IMCHOO this year. At all. There were several times when I thought "I am so glad that's not me riding up that hill" or "Oh - he still has another half marathon to go. Poor thing." Usually when I'm spectating a race, I'm all "I can't believe I'm not out there!" But not Sunday. And that confuses me because I really want to do another Ironman. I guess maybe that just means that I'm not ready to actually do another one yet.  Right now, I probably won't be doing one until 2017. We'll see. I need to get through the Chicago and Marine Corps Marathons first!  Only one more week until Chicago!!