From Mona – Number 1 Fan:
A year ago today (July 20th), I stood with Sara’s family, friends, and thousands of other spectators anxiously awaiting a glimpse of their own personal Ironmen and women at the 2008 Ironman Lake Placid.
I followed Sara’s training schedule since she first flirted with the idea of signing up for the Ironman. I admit, like many people she first told, my first reaction was “Wow. That’s crazy.” However, my very next words were “but I know you can do it. You can, and you will.”
I decided I’d make the trip up to Placid from NYC, but I really didn’t know what to expect from such an event. My past experience as a spectator at any event like this was limited. In fact, the closest thing was the few years I was fortunate enough to cheer the marathoners in Boston. That was exciting, but this was different. There would be a marathon, but not until the end. There was still a swim and bike course to contend with… AND Sara was competing in this. This was, in fact, my first triathlon I’d be watching. I knew I’d be excited, I knew I’d be proud, but I really had no idea how intoxicating the whole experience would be.
Months later, as I stood near the swim start while thousands of athletes filed into the water, it happened. Suddenly, a wave of emotion engulfed me. The best explanation for how I felt was my heart swelled with pride each time I spotted Sara along the course. Truly, there was this big, happy thing bursting with joy in my chest. Everyone’s hard work over the past 6-12 months all came down to this, and I felt the enormity of the moment for each and every one of them. As the first group took off, hundreds of arms splashing, I teared up. U2’s “Beautiful Day” was blaring in the background as the swimmers set off, definitely adding to the emotions of the day. The weather that day was anything but beautiful – it was cloudy, cool, and started pouring rain shortly into the swim. It didn’t matter though, my spirit couldn’t be dampened.
The excitement was contagious. Thanks to Sara, we had the most exclusive spot to watch the triathletes. The house where we stayed was in an area that was restricted to everyone but those living on the street. We had no problems tracking her online, and calculating when she’d loop back through town. Every time she passed us, it was our job to re-fuel her reserves with our cheering. So I cheered loudly. I jumped, I pumped my fists in the air, I screamed myself hoarse. So did the rest of the her family and friends, all the while with Sara smiling as she biked or ran by us.
My first experience as a triathlon spectator, at an Ironman no less, was amazing. It was so inspiring to watch everyone powering their way through hours and hours of swimming, biking, and running. All you triathletes should know that you bring as much to us, as your supporters, as we hope to bring to you. The triathletes in our lives remind us that we are capable of doing anything!