So, I said I'd get to this and HERE. FINALLY.
Since my typical photo uploading site went stupid (Webshots; see the dang "temporarily unavailable" tag EVERYWHERE), I am now back to photobucket. Which I hate. If anyone has a better option for photos (Speedo????), I am all ears.
Anyway. This will mostly be a photo story with a few comments interspersed.
Mill Ave with the welcome banner.
Working bike check-in. Bike check-in was an interesting experience. There were some very nice people; I actually learned some useful tips for next year (like don't inflate your tires the day before; they might pop overnight). That being said, some people were giant a-holes. Please don't yell at me because I'm trying to help you put your bike on the rack correctly. Me touching it will not give it bad juju or whatever. Besides, you DO realize that a volunteer will be manhandling your precious bike AFTER you get off it, right? So it really doesn't matter if I touch it now. THANK YOU.
Still, the nice people outweighed the douchenozzles.
Post-working bike check-in.
Race morning! Ready to strip wetsuits. SO MUCH FUN.
Athletes entering the water. NOTE TO SELF: be one of the last people in so you don't waste energy treading water for who knows how long.
Ready, set, GO!
The voice of Ironman, Mike Reilly.
Wetsuit stripping (peeling, whatevs) was one of the most fun things I have EVER done. If you volunteer for a triathlon and peeling is an option DO IT. It is mass insanity and chaos and a ton of fun. I saw $20 fall out of some guy's wetsuit (um, okay?). A few of us helped massage the cramps out of the legs of an older guy and he gave the four of us a very wet hug in thanks - made my morning.
It was also nerve-wracking. You knew the time for the swim cut. You could see the athletes still in the water, knowing they probably wouldn't make it. We saw an older lady miss the cut by 8 seconds. Mike Reilly was talking to the volunteers, asking if he could make the call (last woman out), but they said no; she was just a bit too late. I saw her crumple to the ground in tears. I do not want that to be me.
Getting ready to sunscreen.
Sunscreening ... wasn't as fun as I thought it'd be. A lot of time with gloves on rubbing lotion on people's bodies. Not bad ... just not as fun. Maybe it's because it didn't have the energy that wetsuit peeling did. Maybe because the heat and the long day started to kill me at that point.
Still, it was good to learn that the sunscreen they have out for the athletes is crappy and to definitely have a lot of my own on hand.
Working my 'fro.
Brandon the human disco ball.
Disco aid station.
The last station we volunteered at was Run Aid 7 ... a.k.a. the TriSports.com aid station and DISCO PARTY! As you can see, I went all out for the disco theme and we decided to make Brandon into a human disco ball (didn't work out quite as well as I was envisioning, unfortunately).
This aid station shift ran from 7pm to midnight ... the depressing hours. We handed out water, Perform, coke, chicken broth (sodium!), gels, shot bloks, food (it is astounding how many people like cookies on the run) ... anything to help people get through the race.
We were located about three miles from the finish and as it got later into the night, you could get a sense of who was going to make it and who wasn't. Brandon and Debbie (our fearless leader), helped out a woman who essentially collapsed as she hadn't taken in ANY nutrition since the bike. They forced some electrolytes in her and got her on her way, but she was a broken woman by that point. I don't know if she finished or not. As I had earlier that day at the wetsuit station, I felt anxiousness for those I knew probably wouldn't finish. That feeling literally brought me to tears at several points that day ... and also made me vow to myself that I would not come that close to failure.
On a happier note, we saw Fireman Rob come through our aid station, so that was cool.
We were freed of our duties at around 11:40ish because by that point, if they hadn't made it through us, odds are they weren't making it at all. We helped Seton and Debbie clean up and then got to our car to change and park closer to Tempe Beach Park so we could get in line for volunteer registration. We parked and got to the tent right before midnight (passing kind of by the finish line; I do regret not spending any time there). A few people showed up at 12:15 - we weren't the only crazies camping out! - a few more at 1:30 and then quiet until about 3:30, 4am.
Still, it didn't matter because we were FIRST IN LINE! WOO!
After a surprisingly cold night sleeping in the park and the volunteers so nicely opening up registration earlier than we thought, we paid our $700 each to put ourselves through the special kind of hell that is Ironman in November.
Now, if I could only shake this damn cold so I can properly start base-building ...