Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ironman Canada 2015

Here we go again.  Yep, my husband decided to do another Ironman.  This time he decided that an Ironman wasn't challenging enough.  He needed to pick one that had one of the toughest courses around.  That's my guy.  :-)  Ironman Canada takes place in Whistler, Canada.  The bike portion is exceptionally challenging because there is a lot of elevation....but I'm getting ahead of myself.  We will get to that in a bit.

Once again we got Joe all signed up and prepared for all that comes with having someone training for an event like this in the house.  There was a bit of an additional challenge in that because for most of the year of his training I was going to grad school full time.  The support system was definitely leaning more heavily my way as I reached the end of my program and entered into my practicum.  Joe balanced his workouts and keeping things running smoothly at home nicely which I so appreciated.  I know it wasn't always easy!  I finished my schooling at the beginning of April and that worked out well because his training was just starting to really amp up at that point.  So the support system shifted and I was able to return the favor and support him as he began to have longer swims, bike rides and runs.

When he did Ironman Coeur D'Alene in 2013 Joe had gone to Idaho the Wednesday before the race and I was unable to go until the Friday before.  In Idaho I needed to just be wife and not mom so I didn't bring our youngest daughter and didn't really invite the older two children who don't live at home anymore.  This time we got to make it a family trip and all be together and it was great.

We left on Wednesday morning and drove to Tacoma, WA and spent the night at my cousin's house.  That is just under half way to Whistler from our house.  It was a great way to break up the trip and spend a fun evening laughing and enjoying our family.  The adults got to have a great visit and the "kids" were busy and I heard a lot of laughing so they were having a good time too.  They are all grown up now, it's so weird!  lol
We made Smor's with square marshmallows.  Who knew they even made such a thing?  The Eastmans evidently.  :-)
We left Thursday morning and finished the drive to Whistler, arriving around 3:00 p.m.  What a gorgeous drive from Vancouver, BC to Whistler!!  We found the condo I had reserved in Whistler Village easily and were able to unload the car and get settled quickly.  We drove to the where the market was and Joe was able to check in for the Ironman and then we got some groceries to stock up the kitchen at the condo.  I had premade hamburgers at home so we had a BBQ dinner and Taylor decided we needed to do some lip sync videos for entertainment.  Holy moley.  I was laughing SO hard.  I love my family!  What do we do after a long road trip.  Make dorky videos.  :-)
Joe did this in one take.
Bri's face in this one cracks me up!
Of course, it had to be Minions!
????  I don't know.  I don't think I want to know. 
Poor Taylor.  lol

Friday we got in the car and did a some bike recon.  We drove out the first part of the bike route and at the of the hill where Joe would turn Joe got on his bike to do a short ride.  We drove ahead and took pictures and goofed off.  We checked on him a couple of times to make sure everything on the bike was working well and that he had the clothing he wanted (not too hot, not too cold) and then we drove to the top.  The road led to where the Olympic skiing events had taken place.  The gate was closed so we weren't able to go all the way in but it was fun to be where the Olympics had taken place.  I am a complete Olympics junky and love all things that have to do with the Olympics, summer or winter, so it was fun!  That portion of the bike course was about six miles and it didn't take long for Joe to meet us at the top.  He felt good about how the bike was and how he did.  He rode the bike for a bit down the hill just to see how cold he felt with what he was wearing and then we picked him up.
Waiting for dad to go by.  Love my girls.  :-)
Getting to play with mom's fancy camera.  :-)
Some of Taylor's pictures with my camera.  
It's weird being in pictures instead of always being the one taking them.  :-)
Here he comes!  Looking good!  

We didn't see any bears.  But we were out of our vehicle when we took a picture of the sign.  :-)  
We headed back to Whistler and then continued on to drive the rest of the bike course.  This took us into the town of Pemberton.  Once in Pemberton the athletes would have a long straight stretch to go out and back.  Then they would grind back up the hill (mountain?) to Whistler.  Yep, they FINISH the 112 mile bike ride with a 20 mile grind up a mountain.  UGH!  The people who designed this course were a bit sadistic I am thinking.  It was good for Joe to see the route and know what was coming.  It was good for the kids to see the route and have a better idea of the challenge that their dad would be facing.  It was good for me to see it so I would have a better idea of the time it would take him to through the different parts of the bike route.  The more I know, the less I worry.
Stopping at one of the turnouts to checkout the view.  It was gorgeous.  I want to come back when it is clear.  I bet it is spectacular then!

The water just disappears!
The long flat stretch of the bike ride.  With tall hills/mountains on either side.  
It was beautiful country!
Once we got back we had lunch at the condo.  Joe needed to be at a athletes briefing at least once leading up to the race so we headed out so he could catch one that afternoon.  Then we planned to run to the lake to scope out how things were set up out there.  There was no parking at the lake so athletes would be taking a shuttle to the swim start.  All spectators had to walk a 2 mile path from Whistler Village to Rainbow Park at Alta Lake.  I wanted to walk the path so I would know where I was going and Joe wanted to have a short run.  We ran from our condo to the briefing and then from the briefing to where the spectator map said the trail began (on the other side of the village, of course).  The path led along side a golf course and was very pretty.  We didn't see any bears, I was disappointed.  :-)  I struggled on the run and didn't feel good.  Then I was worrying about putting a crimp in Joe's Ironman training so I just struggled with my attitude in general.  And everything hurt and was sore, my hips, my knees, it just wasn't a good run.  I thought it was going to be a four mile run, it ended up being a 6.25 mile run.  So here I am grumpy and hurting and I go 2.25 miles farther than I thought I was going to go.  That didn't help! lol  On the flip side it was nice to see how things were set up for the swim and where we were going to be able to watch the swim and the transition.  It wasn't as spectator friendly as Coeur d'Alene but we could make it work.
Most of the route to Alta Lake was along a golf course with a nice trail.
Just for some perspective on how big some of the trees were.  :-)
Me and my Ironman!

Had to laugh at all the people who we passed on our run who told us "Good Luck!"  I felt like I needed a disclaimer or a shirt that pointed to Joe that said he was the crazy one doing the race.  I was just along for kicks and giggles.  :-)

That evening we took the girls to dinner.  Taylor wanted to go exploring in the village so he took off and did his own thing.  We had told the kids right from the start that they were not required to do anything with us, including on race day.  They were free to make plans, go with us or just hang out.  Whatever they wanted to do, it was their trip too.

Joe's mom, little sister and her husband and two of their kids arrived that evening to be part of Team Van V's cheering squad.  The got checked into their condo and then walked over to ours.  It was probably 8:30 p.m. before they arrived but we had a great time laughing and talking.  Mary Ann (Joe's mom) was very excited and nervous about being there to see the event.  We kept teasing her and asking when we needed to give her a Valium.  Everyone kept asking me when I was going to start crying.  They know me so well!  Somehow we made a big deal about our condo number being #37 and we kept shouting it out.  That became a theme for the weekend.  So random.  lol  Our friends Josh and Wendie also arrived in Whistler that evening but were wiped out so they grabbed some dinner and headed for bed.  We caught up with them the next afternoon.
Greg, Joe, Mimi and Elijah
Greg, Elijah, Melodee, Joe, Alicia and Mimi
Saturday morning Joe wanted a big breakfast, scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes.  One of the nice things about getting a condo was the very nice kitchen so I made him his big breakfast, which the kids enjoyed too.  Then Joe was able to take his bike to the transition at Alta Lake.  This was also the only time spectators could join the athletes on the shuttle bus.  So the entire family met up at the shuttle (aka school bus) and we loaded up.  The wrapped Joe's bike in a blanket and gently placed it in a stryker van to be transported behind the bus we were on.  We took up the entire back of the bus, and as always there was lots of goofiness and laughter.  A few chants of 37 which got us funny looks (only the pros have such low race numbers and I guarantee they don't have to use the shuttle bus!)  We arrived at the lake and Joe got his bike and we walked into the park.  He ended up with his bike on the rack right at the end where it would be super easy for us to stand and see him when he came out after the swim.
Joe and a large portion of Team Van V.  Look out Whistler!  
We had gotten on one of the very first buses of the morning so it wasn't very full going to the lake.  Lots of athletes had arrived while we were checking things out and many of them were doing a short swim in the lake.  By the time we got on the bus to head back to the village it was definitely fuller.  Lots of nervous, excited athletes.  Things are starting to feel real.
Walking into Rainbow Park at Alta Lake.
Mimi and Greg
Joe explaining how the transition from the swim to the bike works.  Taylor is doing a great job being a sherpa. 
Getting ready to go check in his bike. 
I'll be right in there.  
Score!  His bike was right on the end of the row.  Easy for us to see from the fence.  :-)   
This walkway was the only way for spectators to cross the trail on race day.  
Not many bikes here yet.  That will change!
Team Van V ready to cheer on Joe on Sunday!
Had to stop at the Olympic Rings and get some pictures on the way back to the condo.  

Miss Meighan!
Me and my favorite guy!  
We headed back to the condo and Joe was going to have some down time and get off his feet.  I need to have some alone time and went for a run.  This time I ran out to Lost Lake.  This was part of Joe's Ironman run route.  Just a 5k loop around a small lake.  It was very hilly and very beautiful.  Lot's of people running, hiking and biking.  I had to avoid stepping on the migrating Western Toad.  Very big name for itty bitty toads hopping across the trial.  I'm sure they get bigger but they were so tiny!  And everywhere in a couple of spots on the trail.  I didn't hurt as much during this run.  Knees and hips still hurt but not as bad as they had the day before.  My pace wasn't any better but I tried to not let it bother me.  It is what it is at this point.  Can't do much about it between now and Cascade Lakes so might as well enjoy the run, right? Right.

Have to have my stop for flower pictures! 
The sun was out and had gotten warm.  The lake was very pretty. 
There was a "wilderness trail" right along the water's edge.  Not a good place to run but it would be fun to explore another time.  Good excuse to come back!
It was a lot like running in the Mac forest at home.   
The clouds made the lake change constantly.  
Oh Canada, eh? 
I saw this sign and then...
I saw these little guys.   
They were quick!
All the little black spots on the trail are the tiny frogs.  They are everywhere!  
Who knew I would actually like going out and running as part of my vacation?  
Went to get a few things for dinner after my run and my card wouldn't work.  So I had to run back to the condo, get a different card, run back to the store and get the groceries and then go back to the condo.  The store and the condo were on opposite sides of the village.  Luckily the store just suspended my transaction and put my stuff in the cooler so all I had to do was ring it up and go, not do all my shopping again.  I also ordered pizza to be delivered.  Pizza and pasta for the Ironman.  Fueling up for an Ironman is hard work.  lol  Our friends Josh and Wendie came over to hang out for a bit.  They had found another lake and done their own hiking/running adventure that morning and had a great time.

Joe wanted to go to bed early to get ready for his big day.  So we said goodnight and settled into our room around 7:00 p.m.  I know he didn't sleep for quite awhile because he kept tossing and turning.  But it was probably good for him to be resting anyway.  I put a movie on my computer and headphones in and watched it until about 8:30 before I finally decided to try and get some sleep.  We were planning on being out the door by 4:30 a.m. so sleep was going to be necessary.

We got up around 3:30 a.m.  Joe made coffee and had a bowl of cereal.  He seemed pretty calm, which was good.  Meighan and Taylor were going to come with us but I was going to give them more time to sleep.  Bri was going to stay in the village and and watch the live feed at the athletes village.  Joe and I made sure he had the last of what he needed gathered up and sitting by the door, ready to go.  We got the kids up and next thing I knew it was time to go.  It had been raining most of the night.  The last three days at Whistler had been cloudy and showers.  Now it decides to just solidly rain.  Sigh.  Isn't that how it goes?
Taylor wore his Ironman hoodie in honor of the day.  He was so disappointed no one noticed.  lol
So hard to send him off on the shuttle without me.  
Getting his numbers on before he gets on the shuttle.  
Starbucks was conveniently open at 4:30 a.m. on race day.  :-)
We headed out to the shuttle area.  There were lots of quiet people walking that way.  You could tell they were athletes because most of them were carrying the Ironman bags that would be dropped for halfway through the bike and the run.  We ended up walking with another guy and started chitchatting with him.  Before a race it's nice to have someone to talk to.  Anyone to talk to.  :-)  You end up meeting a lot of really nice people because of nerves before a race.  We got to the shuttle area and had to say our goodbyes to Joe.

This is the part I was dreading.  This is the part that I knew was going to be hard for me and I was pretty sure wasn't going to be so great for Joe either.  He was going to be alone, heading to the lake.  We had to walk and it was going to be about thirty minutes before we would get there.  When we were in Coeur d'Alene we were together all morning until he went to change into his wetsuit.  Then we got to talk with him until he went to line up for the start of the swim.  Lots of time to distract and laugh and talk.  I was worried that this time there would be lots of time for Joe to think and worry.  I know that it gave me lots of time to think and worry.   But I had the kids with me and we were walking and talking so I had a distraction.  Joe did not.  I was trying not to rush there but at the same time I wanted to get there as fast as possible.

We got to the park and started looking around for Joe.  He spotted us first.  He had been keeping an eye out for us on the path.  I think he was ready for us to be there for the distraction, just like I thought.  :-)  I know my guy.  So we talked, took some pictures and harassed the kids (we are really good at that).  Suddenly it was 20 minutes to start time and it was time for Joe to go do his final prep for the swim.  We hugged and made sure he knew where we were planning to be to watch him transition to the bike and then where we would be to watch him go by on the bike at least once.  He took off.  This swim was a mass start and the athletes did not come on shore at all to go over a timing mat.  I knew that I wouldn't see him begin because he would be out in the water.  I knew about when he should be coming out of the water though so I was going to try and position myself in order to see him come through the archway.

A few more bikes on the rack since yesterday morning.  
Waiting is hard for Joe, he has serious game face on in this picture.    Meighan seems cool with it though.  
Joe has his ear plugs tucked in his upper lip.  He looks like he doesn't know how to use chew. lol

The rain had not let up at all, if anything it had gotten worse.  I hadn't worn my rain coat because I thought it would let up like it had all the other days.  That was a mistake.  So I put on Joe's sweatshirt.  I had his backpack with the clothes he had worn that morning and his bike pump so he wasn't going to need it.  :-)  There were lots of people using umbrellas.  There isn't a big area to view the swim and then you get a whole bunch of people in front holding umbrellas up it makes it really hard to see.  It would have been nicer if they had just used hats and raincoats down in front.
Joe heading off to get in the water.  Here we go!

Green caps are the men, pink caps are the women.  It's almost go time!
Some people evidently thought that the athletes had to start on the beach and were getting upset because they weren't calling back the people that were out in the water.  The swim started in a line out from the shore so the swimmers out in the water were fine.  But people didn't understand that.  It was kind of funny watching them think that all those people were cheating somehow.  As if the Ironman race coordinators would just let 1,000 swimmers flagrantly cheat like that. lol

Some of the crowd thought the people in the water had to come back on shore.  :-)
The pro men started at 6:50 and the pro women started at 6:55.  Suddenly it was 7:00 and boom, the cannon fired and the rest of the athletes took off.  I love watching the water churn from all those legs kicking and arms stroking.  It looks awesome.  Probably freaks the fish out.

And they're off!
Almost time.  Treading water.
Sign my niece and nephew made for Joe.  

I figured that Joe would be about an hour and 15 minutes.  So I wanted to get in position to see him come out of the water at about 8:00 a.m.  Taylor and Josh went and found a position at the fence near Joe's bike and Wendie, Meighan and I wormed our way through the crowd.  As people saw their loved ones come out of the water they would leave and we would move into their spots.  This wasn't our first rodeo.  :-)  We have a system.  The umbrellas were a pain.  If you were standing near someone with one the water would often drip down one of the poles onto your head or down your shirt.  I had one lady who kept resting her umbrella on my head.  I kept gently pushing it up.  After about the fourth time pushing it up I finally looked at her and she said, "What is your problem?" in such a snotty tone.  lol  Well, I don't appreciate getting dripped on or having your umbrella sitting on my head, weird, I know.  But I'm like that.  I didn't say that, but I really wanted to.  I just moved away slowly and tried not to make eye contact.  lol

We managed to work our way up to a good spot to see the athletes coming out of the water.  Now begins the game of "Is that him? No.  Is that him?  No......Is that...No."  Wrong height, wrong size, wrong wetsuit or wrong swim stroke.  Then suddenly, there he is and we are screaming and yelling trying to get his attention.  He looks awesome coming out of the water!  He sees us and gives us a smile, waves and then heads off to get his wetsuit stripped off and then get ready for the bike ride.  We take off to go stand by the fence near where his bike is sitting to wait for him to come out of the changing tent.

We have to wait a bit and again we play the game of "Is that him?  Nope.  Is that him?  Maybe...No." Lots of the male athletes are wearing black pants and white shirts so it is hard to tell as they are coming out of the changing tent at the opposite end of the field.  But then I see Joe trotting between the row between the bike racks.  I laugh and say "Here he comes, I recognize those thighs anywhere!"  The man next to me looks over and says "Wow, a little too much information!" and we all laugh.   What he doesn't realize is that Joe has substantial thighs.  While everything else on him has slimmed down in all his Ironman training his thighs are still large and solid.  Once Joe got closer and was getting his bike and gear situated the man next to me looked at me, grinned and said, "Ok, I see what you mean."  lol  I know, right?
Here he is!

At this point the entire entourage of Team Van V that had made the trip to Whistler is standing by the fence hooting and hollering for Joe.  He grabs his bike, gives us all a big smile and a wave and heads up the path for where he can start the bike portion of the Ironman.

Now we won't be able to see him for a couple of hours.  He is going to go through Whistler and head out to the south, climb a big hill and then turn around and come back through Whistler.  We planned to stand on the highway and catch him as he goes through town.  First thing for us to do is get back to the condo and get dry.  It has rained steadily since the swim began and we are soaked to the skin.  We still have a 2 mile hike back to Whistler so we take off, eager to get to dry clothes and warm rooms.  In the back of my head I keep thinking that Joe doesn't get that option and I hope he is staying warm enough.

Taylor, Josh and Wendie take off running in order to warm up.  I have Joe's backpack with his tire pump and clothes in it so Meighan and I just walk fast.  I was very happy to have a condo with a washer and dryer in it!  We were able to throw our sweatshirts in the dryer to warm them up when we got back to the condo.  Bri had a good time watching the swim on the jumbo screen in the village and stayed significantly dryer than the rest of us.  :-)  I spent some time updating Facebook on both my account and Joe's while I had some wifi.  There was already multiple pictures of people in their Team Van V shirts or just family and friends sending love and encouragement.  It was awesome!
We made it back to the condo!
Pretty much soaked through.  :-)
We headed out to catch Joe zoom by on the bike.  I had told Joe the general area where I planned to be so that he had an idea of where to look for me.  Josh and Wendie planned to join us there as well.  It didn't take long to find Josh and Wendie when we got close.  Josh had gotten some very special shorts to wear in support of his buddy Joe.  I spotted them right away.  He got a lot of smiles and waves from athletes as they rode by on their bikes.  It was a lot of fun.  At first we were looking for a guy in black shorts, a white top and black sleeves.  Luckily I remembered that he had his yellow windbreaker vest tucked in the back pocket of his bike jersey as he left so we started keeping an eye out for yellow as well.  That was what he had on when he came around the corner.  It was so good to see him!!  He looked great!  His sister and her family and his mom were a few miles down the road to give him some more love and cheers to send him on his way for the long portion of his bike ride.

Spectating at an Ironman is about brief moments.  We get small moments to see the ones we love doing a remarkably difficult thing.  We hope those moments are enough to encourage them until the next time we see them to offer more encouragement.  We would not see Joe again until he would be finishing the bike portion of the Ironman.

Josh cheering Joe, you can just see Joe's yellow vest under Josh's arm.  :-)
Josh decided to head back to their hotel to change and get a long run in.  The kids, Wendie and I decided to get something to eat and then we would get some down time before we all met up at the end of the bike.  We found a fun place in the village to eat and had a great time laughing and being silly.  It was fun to share my two older kiddos with Wendie.  She knows my youngest pretty well but the other two had already moved out when we became friends so she hasn't spent as much time around them.  Then it was another trip back to the condo.  The nice part about everything being centered around Whistler Village was being able to go back to the condo and get some real down time.  I update Facebook.  At this point when I logged into Joe's account he had 100+ notifications!  Wow!  That is a lot of love!  I didn't look at any of them because I wanted him to be able to see them when he got a chance after the Ironman was done.

I thought I would take a nap but I couldn't quit checking the online tracker.  He crossed a tracking mat when he got to Pemberton and then he was supposed to cross another one when he got to the point where they turn around and head back to Whistler.  Then one last one just before they start the 20 mile uphill climb into Whistler.  He never had a time for the turn around.  All of a sudden there is a time that shows he is at the bottom of the hill.  WAY sooner than he thought he would be there.  He had told me that he thought he would take 8:30 hours to do the bike course because it was so difficult.  Maybe 8 hours if he was having a good day.  Hmmmm.  We suddenly are scrambling to get ready and head out to be on the course to see him finish.  I would rather be there and stand around waiting than take the chance in missing him.  We actually saw the overall winner come running by us.  That was pretty cool.  He just came trotting by, looking all relaxed with a #1 finger in the air.  lol
Watching and waiting.  :-)
Joe came around the corner looking great!  He saw us right away.  He was tired, a 20 mile hill will do that to you (not to mention a 112 mile bike ride).  But his total time for the bike?  How about 7:42:21?!  Woo Hoo!  After he rode by we ran down to the transition area to see him start the run.

Team Van V watching for Joe to come by on the bike!
Finishing the bike!
By this time the sun was trying to come out a bit and the weather was much warmer than it had been in the morning.  We had a great spot to see him come out of the transition tent and start the run.  This time we actually got to give him high fives and hugs.  Well, I got to give him kisses too. Privilege of being the wife.  :-)  I knew the bike was the part he was the most worried about and he had just kicked ass.  I was so stinking proud of all he had accomplished already I could hardly contain it.  So, for the first time all day I cried.  For those of you who know me well, it is hard to believe that I made it that long before I cried but it is true!  However, from that point on the flood gates had been opened and it didn't take much to get me going.
Pretty cool when a busy Ironman takes a momenmt for a kiss, a hug and a picture!  :-)
The run consisted of looping around a small lake then they go up a trail and head out around another lake.  Then they come back and do the whole thing again.  By standing on the road where they have to move from the loop to the out and back and then come back again we had multiple opportunities to see Joe.  I wanted to see him as often as possible!!

Ironman photobomb by sister Mel.  lol  She cracks me up!
We saw him go by after his small loop and then after his longer out and back.  Best quote of the day from Joe as he ran by.  "Why does there have to be so many Fucking hills?!"  That got some good laughs from everyone who was standing nearby.  The hard part was it wasn't easy to tell who was finishing their second loop and heading for their last 2k through the village and who was finishing their first loop and we would see coming back soon.  But as it got darker there were fewer and fewer that were just starting their second loop.
This guy had a ton of funny signs and so much energy!  :-)
When Joe took off for his last long leg out past Green Lake the kids and I went to go find something warm to drink.  The weather had turned again and it was drizzly and cold.  We were sitting in a coffee shop watching the updates on my tracker when it looked like it was time to head back.  Joe was doing really well and it was looking like he was going to beat his first Ironman time by quite a bit.

Taylor realized he had forgotten to wear his Team Van V shirt so he headed back to the condo to get it.  He decided to wait near the condo and see Joe run by on the last 2k through the village.  The girls and I were at our spot on the run route that we had been all afternoon.  The rest of the family was in the chute cheering people on and loving the atmosphere that comes with watching amazing people finishing an incredible experience.

The girls had moved father up the trail watching for their dad.  I was standing by myself cheering people on.  It was getting dark and it was cold and wet.  We were starting to see athletes with the space blankets wrapped around them for warmth.  Some were still running and looked solid to finish. Others looked like they were hurting badly.  A few looked like they were in a lot of pain.  Every single one of them was still moving.

Where I was standing there was only a 2k to the finish line.  The finish line was literally behind me but the athletes had to wind through the village to get there.  Two kilometers is 1.24 miles.  That doesn't seem that far, right?  Unless you have already done a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride and 25+ miles of run/walking so far.  Then it probably seems like forever.

Because we were so close to the finish you could hear them announcing people's names and the words "You are an Ironman!" over the loudspeakers.  So close and yet so far away.

There was one woman that was walking past me that looked done.  She looked like she was hurting and like she didn't have much more in her.  I looked at her and said "Good job!" and she just shook her head.  I said, "You know what?  No matter what, today you are going to be an Ironman!  You can crawl if you have to but you have three hours to go 2k!  You will be an Ironman today!"  All of a sudden she stood a little straighter, looked at me and said, "I'm going to be an Ironman today!!"  Then she gave me a huge hug (we both cried!) and then she took off.  How cool is that?

Now I was waiting for MY Ironman.  I wanted one more moment to see him and make sure he was okay before the chute.  When he did his first Ironman I didn't see him after the halfway point of the marathon until the finish and that was just too long.  If I saw him with 2k left then I would have just enough time to make it to the chute to see him finish and I would know he was okay.

The girls had gone quite a ways ahead and suddenly my phone was ringing and it was Bri saying that she was with her dad!  He was almost to me.  Then he was coming around the corner and running up to me.  He wrapped me in his arms and gave me the biggest hug.  We had a little moment there on the course.  He may have had 2k left but we knew he had done it.  I thought I was going to burst I was so proud of him!!  He took off and so did we.  :-)

My brother-in-law Greg had been close by too getting some pictures so he led the way back to the chute and where everyone was standing.  I told Joe that we would all be on his left side so he was looking for us.  Taylor had seen him on the last little bit of the run and then somehow made it to the chute in time to see him finish with the rest of the family.

Joe Van Veldhuizen....You are an Ironman!!!

Boy that doesn't get old!  Joe had a whole crew to hug and high five.  I loved that his mom was there for him to love on.  That was super special for both of them!  I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't a few future Ironman in the younger generation that came to watch as well.  Hard not to be inspired when you watch one of these races.

Joe finished with an official time of 15:35:01.  This is a half an hour faster than his first Ironman and on a way more difficult course!  That's my guy!  :-)

After he crossed the finish line we worked our way around to where the athletes come out and found him right away.  Lots more hugs and high fives.

One very long hug for me....I know he is the one doing this amazing thing but in a lot of ways I feel like my heart is right there with him for every stroke of the swim, every pedal of the bike and every footstep of the run.  So proud of him!  So grateful he lets me share his accomplishments!
Everything he works for is worth it for me in this moment.  
I can't even look at these pictures without starting to get teary.  Seriously!  
After a few pictures he was cold and done.  Time to get my guy back to the condo.  It was a bit of a walk but probably good for him to have a walk to stretch things out.  He was in a lot of pain, everything was getting really tight.  Back at the condo he got some ibuprofen in him, a hot shower and a back rub and a foot rub from his #1 fan.  Then he went to bed.

Have I mentioned that I'm proud of this guy?  

I love this picture!  Wonderful friends and laughter.  That about sums it up with the Gums.  So thankful they were there!!
We say friends and family came to support Joe.  But really these people are family too.   
He's done but she needs one last picture. lol  
Team Van V
I did some laundry to get the worst of the Ironman Yeti clothes cleaned up and then I came to bed as well.
One Ironman Finishers medal.  All in Kilometers.  How cool is that?  
The next morning he woke up feeling pretty good.  I was actually surprised considering how miserable he had been the night before.  He had some left over pizza and chowed it down like it was the most incredible food he had ever tasted.  lol  It probably was.  I'm sure he was a little behind in his calorie intake from the day before.

Then he opened the foyer to get something and we about got knocked over by the smell.  He had taken off some of his running clothes in there and I missed them when I was doing laundry.  They fermented in that little room all night.  Talk about stinky!!  We had to leave the front door open to air it out, it was nasty.  Needless to say, I did another load of laundry!!  Ironman Yeti in clothes takes workout Yeti to a whole new level!

We had the car all packed up and headed out before 10:00 a.m.  But we will be back to Whistler again!  What a beautiful part of the world!  We want to come back again when we can relax and spend more time exploring!

Originally we were just going to find somewhere to stop about halfway home.  Josh and Wendie had a better plan.  I am so glad they did!  I drove so that Joe could stretch out and not be tensed up driving.  We traveled all day until we got just north of Vancouver, WA.  Then we met up with Josh and Wendie.  The kids took our car and drove the rest of the way home.  They were more then ready to sleep in their own beds.

We joined Josh and Wendie and drove to McMenamin's Edgefield.  This is a hotel that is made in an old mental hospital.  It has pubs and restaurants tucked all over the property, places for bonfires, a movie theater and best of all....a soaking pool.  We checked in and explored the property a bit since Joe and I had never been there (which now I wonder how this could be, it is awesome!)  Exploring had to be done with adult beverages!  Then we went and got our suits on and robes and went down to the soaking pool.  So very nice!  Joe was able to stretch out tired/sore Ironman muscles and I was able to stretch out tense driving muscles.  It was just great to relax with fabulous friends.  After the soaking pool closed we went and had a very late dinner and then went to bed.  The next morning it was time for another soak before breakfast.  :-)

After breakfast we just had a couple hour drive to get home.  After the drive we had the day before, that was a piece of cake!

Suddenly we were home and Ironman 2015 was officially over!  Wow!  Another successful adventure for Team Van V.

  • Joe kicked ass on another Ironman.
  • We had fabulous time getting a vacation with our kids.
  • We got to share the Ironman experience with some of our family.
  • We got an overwhelming amount of love and support from friends and family back home.
  • Life is good!

Even if the first thing hadn't turned out like Joe had wanted, the rest of the list would have more than made up for it.

Photo credit:  The photos are from Melodee Nolan, Josh & Wendie Gum, Taylor, Bri and Meighan Van Veldhuizen and myself.  In all the excitement I didn't do a great job getting shots with my big camera.  Thanks to everyone for sharing with me.

THANK YOU to everyone for all the texts, Facebook messages, videos, pictures and support that was sent to both Joe and I in the days leading up to Ironman and the day of.  It was completely overwhelming, so appreciated and was more help than can ever be expressed by either of us.  We have an amazing family and an equally amazing network of friends.  Did I mention that life is good?  :-)

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