Ironman Wisconsin volunteering

How depressing is this?

I got this in the mail a week or so ago.  It is the participant guide for the Twin Cities Marathon.  This is the marathon I should be running in two weeks.  I am still REALLY bummed that I’m not running this race.  I had really high hopes of running this marathon in under four hours.

It has been a tough summer watching everyone train for their fall marathons.  This past weekend was especially difficult, because it seemed that almost everyone I know was running either a half or full marathon.  My facebook feed was full of race updates and smiling finishers.  Part of me has been really excited to see how their training was progressing and to see them cross the finish line of their races.  The other part of me is just plain jealous that they can run and I can’t.  It seems I am constantly going between motivating/encouraging and bitter/depressed.

A couple weeks ago, I went down to Madison to volunteer for Ironman Wisconsin.  My friend, Angela, and I helped out in the women’s change tent in Transition 1.  The women would come out of the water after swimming 2.4 miles.  They grabbed their gear bag and then headed into the changing area.

I spent a lot of time pulling off wetsuits and tugging biking clothes onto still-wet bodies.  These women were incredible.  They were in the middle of putting their bodies through the toughest thing most people can imagine.  After their 2.4 mile swim, they biked 112 miles and then ran a full marathon.  Incredible.

The best part of the experience for me was seeing the diversity of athletes represented at this event.  I think everyone expects Ironman competitors to fit into a certain ‘mold.’  While there were professional athletes there, most of the people participating were very ‘normal’ looking.  There were athletes ranging in age from 19-72.  There were those who looked strong and sinewy and others who were a little overweight.  It pretty much destroyed the stereotype I had in my mind of the ‘typical’ Ironman athlete.  And, it made me think that if these people are capable of completing this event, what is stopping me?

And then I remembered that I have chronic back pain and I can’t run more than a mile at a time.  I guess that is what is stopping me.  Once again, I go from inspired and motivated to depressed and discouraged.  It is probably for the best.  I can’t afford to buy all the STUFF that you need to be a triathlete.  My road bike doesn’t have aerobars (not that I could get into that position with my back, anyway).  I don’t don’t have a wetsuit.  Triathlon entry fees are much more expensive than regular running races.

But, I think I will volunteer again next year.  We had a great time and it really is amazing to see what these people are able to do.  While we were at the finish line, we saw a father with his two small sons.  The boys were probably 5 and 6 years old.  They each had a sign with a close up picture of their mom’s face.  The sign was on a long stick, so they could wave the picture out in front of the runners as they ran down the finishing chute.

As soon as their mom approached and saw her boys holding those signs, she started crying.  She came up and hugged her boys and kissed her husband.  The boys were cheering and the husband was letter her know how proud he was of her.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the group.  It was such an emotional moment.  It really illustrated how important it is for these athletes to have a good support system to get through all the training and the preparation that goes into completing the race.



2 thoughts on “Ironman Wisconsin volunteering

  1. Hang in there Heather! I still have chronic back pain from a car accident 4 years ago now. I find a way to deal and you will to. I’ve got the triathlete bug like you have the running bug. It took time to figure out a happy medium and get my body back in some kind of working order. I didn’t want to end up not doing the things I wanted to do so eventually started working out again. It still hurts like he’ll and honestly, I often need medication help with activities. You are a strong woman. Hang in there!
    By the way, I am going to volunteer for the lakefront marathon. I haven’t volunteered for an event like that yet. I’m excited!
    We should chat sometime (for real) my new nurse friend!

    • yes, we should. I’m sure you could teach me a lot about being a good nurse.

      You will have a blast volunteering at Lakefront. I loved that race! Cheer loudly. Take a cow bell if you have one.

      I’m hoping that the next injection will provide some relief. i’m bummed that I only got to ride my bike for two short rides this year.

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