Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ironman Cozumel

Figured I needed to post my side of the day of the race and some pictures we took.
 The before-as ready as they are going to get!
 No idea what their dad is in for
 Mass of bodies-2700 racers all started at the same time and from treading water for 15 minutes before they blew the horn. My nightmare. 
We found a spot where we could watch the guys transition from Swim to Bike and luck out and saw David and Jake. Due to my screaming children I missed Ryan. We soon realized how much more we would be able to see without children around. 
Loved this picture Vanessa captured. At least it was a beautiful day-the weather was awesome for us-a little hot for the racers though.
We were able to find a place to walk to watch the bike portion of the race. With 3 laps we knew if we hung out there that we would see them at least once in 2 1/2 hours. Well we must have just missed them on their 2 lap because finally after 2 or so hours we saw both David and Ryan. Didn't see Jake this time around. 
Vanessa had the great idea to make signs and we had so much fun trying to entertain our kids and keep a close eye on every rider that whizzed by. Never been so grateful for Ryan's white suit. 
Reagan was fully entertained by running in the streets and throwing coconuts she found on the ground. And I brought a couple coloring books for Camryn. So different. It was really so fun to cheer everyone on and I just loved how into it the entire island was. 
Finally an hour after we saw David we spotted Ryan. It was awesome that we were all able to run out in the street and the girls full on saw him-love him waving in this one. It was so great seeing him and know he was safe and smiling. 
Only wish we would have asked what lap he was on. I thought lap 3 by the timing of things-but the internet said lap 1. Never been more confused and nervous in my life-minus child birth. The website was awesome for estimates and where you should go to find the guys but it was not exact and that is what led to my ulcers.
Since it seemed like David's tracker was working Vanessa headed to the finish line to see David, while I watched the girls. It worked out perfect to have this place together when them. Then David and Vanessa came home and I went out with Camryn while Reagan slept and tried to find Jake and Ryan.
 Almost as soon as we got there and found a place to watch on the road we saw Ryan doing his last lap! He was still running and walking for breaks at that point and was on his last lap. And someone told me that the last lap was only 4.5 miles. I was SO happy!
I was glad Camryn wanted to come to see Ryan finish-she was really cute about it and I was glad have a buddy. But same as I mentioned earlier-so much harder to sit in one place for a LONG time. Not to mention the 3x she had to go to the bathroom. Let's just say I was so stressed out that I wasn't going to see the guys finish. 

We saw Jake just as he was about to finish but because he was with some other guys blocking his view he couldn't see us. I was so sad not to be right there when he finished since he had no idea anyone was there for him. It wasn't until probably an hour later that I found him what looked like passed out on the grass. He had seen Ryan on the lap and knew he was probably still an hour out. It was so nice that they were laps so the guys could see each other pass by on the other side. Where I thought the last lap was 4.5 miles it was actually 9. No wonder. And I had no reason to be freaking out about missing him-in fact I should have been killing time.
Instead Camryn just "slept" on the street and I stared down that road as far as I could see. Finally almost 2 hours after Jake I see Ryan's glow (white suit, neon socks and shoes) and ran to him. So emotional the whole thing. 

He even tried to run that last little bit even though his knees were killing him. Though he probably lost 10 pounds from the race-he never looked more handsome. Weird I know but it was the sense of accomplishment he exuded.

Such a proud and happy moment. It was so cool to watch this and be apart of something so big. 
I really am so proud of these guys. I would never in my life be able or want to do this. It is just as much mental as physical. I am impressed. The fact that Ryan still wanted to do this with bad knees is so amazing to me. I may have not been supportive at the beginning but once I knew it was in his mind he wasn't going to push it aside. It wasn't that I didn't think he could do it I was worried about his physical health after the race was over and having surgery and not being the same again. Though he may not be the same again it is not because of the pain of the race it is because he is an IRONMAN.
Finally decided she loved Dad enough not to care about the sweat. 
And the much needed massage. Check out that tan-line-and yes he still has it and will probably keep it as he can't get the tattoo. 
And just as Vanessa had been referring to the race as their childbirth-after the fact they both said they would never do it again. Then after the pain wears off and that have it just as a memory they all want to do it again. Urgh!

Monday, December 10, 2012

What rhymes with Ryan Can...

Blogs are so 2011; many of you may never read this, or care, but I need to tell this story.

First off, I just want everyone to know that I plan on working my Ironman race into every conversation possible. Here is how I imagine many conversations going:

Friend/Family/Stranger: "Hey where is ______(insert anything)?"
Me: "Hmmm, probably around X number of miles...not that far, not like an Ironman distance or anything. I mean, I would know-I've done one."

Friend/Family/Stranger: "You hungry? (i don't imagine a stranger really asking me this)"
Me: "I could definitely carb-load...*fake laugh*-man, I remember having to do that before my Ironman race...crazy."

Friend/Family/Stranger: "Hey..."
Me: "I'm an Ironman"

The first thing many people ask you is, "What made you decide to do this?" I don't really have a good answer other than I had been doing triathlons for awhile now and my friend asked me to. I laughed at first, but then he said it was in Cozumel; I will do almost anything if it is in the tropics. I tried to bargain with him and suggested we do a half. He mocked me and reassured me I could do it. I nervously laughed and started telling him about people dying on the race. He then sent me a picture that changed everything. I will not share what that picture was, but if you ask me in-person I will tell you.

I knew I needed more support, so I asked my brother Jake to join us. He had been studying for the bar and was not of sound mind...perfect. He resisted-then I paid it forward and also sent him the same motivational picture. We all signed up (and paid a ridiculous fee). I would love to add that having all the support of my family and friends made it easier, but I actually got no love or support from anyone. In fact, most of them told me I was crazy and probably going to die (won't mention the marital dispute that also ensued). 

From that point it was about 6 months of training. I was so desperate for a training buddy that I downloaded an app called MeetUp and searched for people to train with. I found a couple people and invited myself to everything. I also joined a swim team; drove 45 minutes twice a week at 5 AM just so I could be around people who made the same stupid decision. I would constantly fish for reassurance as I jokingly said, "hopefully I don't die doing this" or "I'll finish right?". They would just look at you very professionally and say, "Depends on how much you trained."
Me: "..."

I pretty much felt like every second I wasn't training was a second closer to death. I trained everyday. The only thing I was worried about were my knees. I went to chiropractors to get A.R.T., Physical Therapist, Massage Therapists (that I enjoyed) and Orthopedists. I got an MRI and a cortisone shot. I was diagnosed with ITBS, not to be confused with IBS (which I also have, and was equally as nervous about on race day with my white tri suit).

I was finally feeling good and confident about the race when the flu hit. Without getting graphic, I disposed of all food and fluids from my body in several ways and slept on my closet floor-which for some reason seemed like the only comfortable place to be. At that point I could only image my weak body sinking to the bottom of the Caribbean Ocean.

We finally made it to Cozumel and once I was with my brother and friend David, my confidence was restored-mainly because I knew I didn't have to die alone. We woke up at 4:00 AM on race day to carbload, then just tried to relax before heading down to the pier. It was actually really awesome being with all these different racers and being a part of something this big. As we stood on the pier they had a little dolphin show (which I kind of felt bad for the dolphins as I imaged them as Sea World rejects, but Cozumel waters are way better so I guess they have the last laugh), people were cheering like crazy and I got all excited. 

They asked all 2700 of us to jump in the water and we floated around for about 10-15 minutes before the whistle blew. Once it blew it was kind of like a giant shipwreck; people were going crazy. I had never felt so violated nor violated so many others as I tried to swim  in any direction. My philosophy was simple-don't look up, just follow someones feet in front of you. Apparently it was one of the more difficult swims and people were complaining about the crazy current, etc. I had no idea-I just followed the same two feet for and hour and a half.

I emerged from the water and ran to get my bike. Let me mention that everyone had extremely cool triathlon bikes that seemed to all but have motors. I had a very old, aluminum frame, road bike that was about 1000 pounds and screamed, "Amateur, you'll never make...or look cool trying". New bike is on the Christmas list.

Like all events in the triathlon, they are cool for about an hour. Once on the bike I felt the salty air, felt extremely awesome for having finished the swim and pedaled my little heart out. Meanwhile the entire island population was along the side of the road screaming, "Si, se puede! Si se puede!" which was much more motivating than when Obama said it. I even got a little emotional. Again, that was for about the first hour...maybe two. Then you got to the beautiful side of the island...which had a constant headwind and  no one was there. I felt abandoned and lonely. It was 3 large laps of 37.3 miles (112 total in case you forgot. I'm an Ironman). Every time I'd make it back to town and heard the little kids chanting and the Gangnam Style song blaring-my spirits would lift. Just like any good drug, once it wore off you find your soul black and feel like there is no end to the loneliness and pain. After 7 hours I finally made it to the run (which is a marathon in case you're wondering, 26.3 miles. I'm an Ironman).

Here's the thing about the run-it's the worst feeling in the world. It is 3 laps, which has it's advantages in that you know where you're at, and can pace yourself. However when you have just started and see where mile 25 is when you're on mile 3, it makes you want to kick a puppy square in the face. I won't drag this out any longer. My knees hurt from the beginning but I suffered through about 18-19 miles with a run/jog and occasional walk. After that it actually felt like tiny knives stabbing at both sides of both knees and I had to hobble the last lap. Never had I felt this kind of pain. It was very frustrating because I felt great from the waist up; I had complete control of my bowels, and I wanted so badly to run. By the end, the sun had set; volunteers were shutting down shop at the back of the course; street sweepers were cleaning up and there was no more music. Re-enter loneliness and pain.

As I approached the finish line my cute wife and Camryn ran to greet me in the streets. Camryn of course did not want to touch me because I was dirty, even though she was laying in the streets of Mexico sleeping because her dad had taken so long to finish. I picked up my slow hobble to a painful quick hobble and crossed the finish line. I will never forget hearing, "You are an Ironman!". Unfortunately they were backlogged and I didn't get to hear my name attached, but I was fine being called Francisco. We were both Ironmen. I hobbled to the ice bath, got a massage and then was unable to move for two days.

The nice thing about finishing an Ironman is everyone looks at you like you are coolest person on earth; luckily there is no recorded footage of what you actually look like during the race. I however have some pictures of me looking like it could be my last day on earth. They actually sell you these pictures and you will pay almost any price for them just so you have actual proof. You can tell from the watermarks on the pictures that I'm still deciding which of these really bad photos to buy.

The biggest question I get asked is, "Do you think you'll do this again?"
Answer: Yeah, probably.

Here's the swim-the only thing that will do it justice is going yo and watching the video of the mass start. The water was unreal however.

Uncool bike & lonely

I have no clue what was going on here-in fact I don't remember most of the run. Also my wife mocked my tri outfit and socks for so long, but was so grateful for them afterward because I'm very easy to spot.

"Francisco, you are an Ironman!"

Look how happy I look?! Lies (puppy.kicked)

Me and Jaker-he killed it. Not pictured is David who finished 4 HOURS before me and was in bed sleeping his awesomeness off.

The End 
(I'd like everyone to notice our shoes were the same except his were a party in back and mine were a party up front)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Before Ironman or BI-Cozumel

 After a flight change without notice we were to be flying out at 6 am. Which means we all were up by 4 in the morning. Thank heavens that with our long lay over in Dallas there was a Play Place-so great that airports are doing this now. Genius-really.  
Then we took advantage of Ryan's namesake and headed to the big timer lounge. Could have been more happy to have free wifi in my life. Ryan and I were able to close our eyes and enjoy the free snacks. We even snuck Jake in who happened to be on our flight to Cozumel.
Camryn fell asleep waiting to board the plane and then stayed asleep through finding our seats, take off and about an hour on Ryan's lap. So happy they were both on allergy medicine that helped in the sleeping dept.
Reagan was not ok not having her dad's attention just because Camryn was asleep on him. So awkward-yet so sweet.
Once we got there the boys-David, Jake and Ryan had stuff to get ready for the race. So us girls enjoyed the place we would call home for the next 4 days and watched the Sunset.
 Camryn didn't care that the pool was freezing cold-she had been dying to go swimming since we landed in Mexico.

The next day we just enjoyed the beach and the sand. While the boys got prepared for what was ahead-too bad they couldn't relax though-but us girls had fun. They did "test" out the waters for a little-Jake actually got stung by a jellyfish. Lucky didn't amount to anything until after the race. And lucky for me I snapped this picture of what Ryan gained (or lost) from all this training. I had said even if he didn't finish look at what we both got out of it!
 My outside girl at Sunset. This was Jake's way of getting her to like him. He would say, "You want to go outside?" Then she'd let him hold her. 
 My sun basking buddy. I was having views into my future of us layout together and playing cards-just me and the girls. I taught Cam how to play war and it was just me and her while the rest of the house slept before the big day ahead. I love these moments while my oldest.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sick Family

We were so fortunate to have the Watson's come visit just before Thanksgiving. And with them they brought Georgia and Hudson-Chris and Linds went to Paris for her sister's wedding. So we had a full house.  A fun filled house that all got SICK! Of course-right. Passed through 8 of the 11 of us! The flu. So bad. Thankfully we were able to pack in some fun before, during and after everyones puking.
 Movie night the first night! Camryn beyond happy to get to share this tradition with her cuzies. All huddled around the popcorn.
Sunday after church we packed a picnic and headed to Piedmont for some fun. I love this park so much and I was glad they did too. 
Monday we hit up the Aquarium. The Coke Museum was all decked out for Christmas-love this shot. Too bad Reagan hates group shots with the kids.
But she loves a good self portrait. That cheese face-gets me every time!
This Aquarium really is so great-glad it can entertain a 1 year old to a 12 year old. 
Cute family-I sure have missed them.
The next day we ventured to Roswell for Olive oil and Vinegar tasting. The boys were into it just as much as Nikki and I. Hudson was doing shots of Olive Oil by the end. Nasty, don't tell Chris.
Then onto Fickle Pickle. A must. Reagan was loving the blue cheese dip with the homemade potato chips. 
Lucky for us it was Tuesdays kids eat free. Ha.
Eyelash fun that night with all the kids around. The girls were obsessed.
And Camryn got her boy cousins to play Pretty Pretty Princess. Dylan won and he was so ok with it.
Wednesday we got everyone feeling ok to go to Kennesaw Mountain for a picnic on the Battlefield and then drive to the top of the Mountain to walk around and look at the city.

They look sick but they were all healthy here. So hard to take a good picture with that many kids.
Played at the park a bunch too-these kids were in heaven at the Castle Park. This one included. 

And our last meal together-Heirloom BBQ. It wasn't Thanksgiving dinner but it was so nice to be with family and have it feel like Thanksgiving. We are so glad they came down even though they couldn't stay for Thanksgiving and us needed to get off to Mexico. I miss having family nearby. Hopefully we can convince them to come back even after a sick sick week!