Friday, August 03, 2007

Ironman USA

I was on vacation in upstate New York and went to Ironman Lake Placid. Gerald and Jon, two of the founding members of the Axis of Evil were running in the race so it was great having people to cheer for. I later found out that Gil, an honorary member of the Axis, was also running the race.

First, a little about Lake Placid: I lived in upstate New York for about 8 years and I know the Lake Placid area. To this day I can't believe it ever hosted the Olympics. It's in the middle of nowhere with no freeway access. But I suppose that remotenes makes for some right pretty countryside. And the small shops and dinettes along the course gave a small-town feel to a big-time race, so that was pretty cool.

Saturday night, I was staying 90 minutes from the race start so it didn't help that my flight was cancelled, then delayed, and I arrived at the hotel around 1:30 in the morning. After about 3 hours of sleep, I hopped in the car and raced to Lake Placid, hoping to get there before the one road into town was closed down for the race. Fortunately I made it and got the lakeside just after the swim started. Mirror Lake is beautiful, with lots of cool mist and clouds hanging over it. I was able to see both Gerald and Jon on the way to T1 and they were both looking strong.

I planted myself about a mile out of "downtown" (an overstatement) for the bike. They're both strong cyclists so I wisely waited at the top of a small hill, figuring that they would be slowed down a bit instead of wizzing by me. Yup, got good views of them both.

This is the 2nd Ironman I've attended. They can be exciting, and even inspiring. But something happens to Ironmen in T2. Their confident, determined faces turn into looks of suffering and despair. I saw more tortured souls that day than at an Ashlee Simpson concert.* Gerald and Jon (and later Gil when I saw him) had brave smiles on their faces, but I could tell they were hurting. Just like the hundreds of other people who staggered past me. Because the coure was 2 out-and-back loops, I saw people 4 times. It's kind of funny how you start recognizing total strangers, and noticing how their strides deteriorate over time.

After an exhausting day (it was probably a little more tiring for them than it was for me), I watched my tri-teammates cross the Ironman finish line. I think the event humanized them a bit in my eyes since I've never seen either of them in physical pain before, but they still totally rock.

Jon, Gerald, Gil: congratulations.

* Thanks to S. Dutch's Girlfriend for the zinger.


Blogger Steve S. said...

That IS a good zinger.

6:41 AM  

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