A Dream Come True – Ironman AZ 2011

On Sunday I watched my first Ironman since I began this sport in 2009.

Race Week:  I was super excited because 1) I could catch up with all my triathlon buddies, 2) I had tons of friends and teammates racing, 3) the weather was going to be awesome, and 4) my girl, Linsey Corbin, was going for the win.  I was pumped up race week.

To kick it off – the SlowTwitch/TRIBE Multisport Pre-IMAZ party! I got to meet LC’s mom and dad!

They were thinking about adopting me =)

Enjoying a Montana-made beverage

The night before the race, I couldn’t sleep.  I was so excited for my friends  and I couldn’t wait to head down to Tempe Town Lake to cheer them on.  I was up at 4:30am, got my spectator gear together, and was out the door.

My top memories and analogies  from race day:

Pre-race with my teammates: I have done a majority of my late-season training with my teammates training for IMAZ.  For most, it was their first Ironman.  I reminded them to enjoy every second of the day because the race will go by fast.  All of them trained incredibly hard and on Sunday, the day was theirs.  As Linsey Corbin put it, “race day is the icing on the cake for all of your hard work.”

My teammates!

The mass swim start – Nothing in sports beats the sight of an IM mass swim startIt’s absolutely incredible.  I get the chills every time I watch it.  It was a slightly overcast morning so the conditions were perfect.  It’s usually hard to sight due to the sun glaring in your face, but the clouds were covering it up for most of the swim. I knew it was going to be a great day for everyone.

My training run – I had an hour and a half run on my training schedule so I took the opportunity to run a loop of the IMAZ course and parts of the bike course.   The amount of spectators at Tempe Beach Park and Mill/Rio Salado was unbelievable.  Cowbells, whistles, cheers, chants… it was a party!  I cheered on all the bikers as they passed. Everyone was having so much fun out there.

The looped bike and run courses – the three-loop bike and run course make Ironman Arizona one of the most spectator-friendly courses on the Ironman circuit.  There was little down-time throughout the day as I had so many people to cheer for.

A dream come trueI was given the second place female escort volunteer position for the marathon.  My task was to lead the 2nd place runner on a bike and navigate them through the crowds, athletes, and media vehicles.  I knew the women’s race would be close as it was a stacked field.  It was incredible watching the race unfold first-hand.  I started out escorting Leanda Cave.  She soon took over first and I also got to lead Amanda Stevens and Meredith Kessler.

Getting ready to lead the runners

Then, I see a blue Saucony jersey in the distance.  My heart starts pounding.  I quickly adjust the cowboy hat on my back.  I wipe the sweat of my forehead to look good. My dream is unfolding right in front of my eyes.  Linsey takes over second! I had a huge grin on my face.

For 13 miles, I got to lead my favorite,  most awesome triathlete on the planet. I was in heaven.  We passed the huge crowds and my friends laughed. They knew I was having the best time of my life.  Linsey is quite the popular triathlete. She had so much support from her fans, family, and coach along the course.

With a few miles left, I was witnessing history. Linsey was right on pace to break nine hours!  With a mile to go, I remember someone yelling, “You’re gonna do it Linsey! You’re gonna break 9!!! GO, GO, GO!”  She had a huge smile on her face.  She gave me a high five,  grabbed her cowboy hat from her mom, and headed down the finishing chute.  It was an unbelievable sight.

LC finishing in sub 9 hours and 2nd place!! Do you see me?

Being an age grouper, it was really cool to watch the pros’ pacing strategies, nutrition, and run form throughout the marathon.  I learned quite a bit and it was a huge honor getting to lead some of the best triathletes in the world.

Linsey’s own words:

You were awesome, Elliot! Thanks for being the best bike escort at IMAZ ever!!!

Anytime, Lins… anytime.

Watching my friends and teammates becoming an IRONMAN – No matter how the day goes, the finish line is a time for celebrating all your hard work and dedication over the past several months.  All the pain and suffering in training… for this one day.  Many people don’t understand the commitment Ironman training entails.  For many, it’s like a second job.  Waking up at 3am in the morning during the Arizona summers to go on a 100+ mile bike ride… suffering through the grueling heat… being away from your family and friends… if you train for it correctly, it’s a HUGE commitment.  However, running down the finishing chute, knowing that you gave it everything makes all that time worthwhile.  The feeling you get as you run down the finishing stretch is indescribable.  For all the Ironman Arizona finishers, and especially to all the first-timers (over 1,300 in all), I salute you.

Spectating an Ironman is no joke – I was completely wiped out at the end of the day… so was this fan:

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Categories: Miscellaneous, Races

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6 Comments on “A Dream Come True – Ironman AZ 2011”

  1. thm74
    November 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Looks like you had a fun day! How perfect you got to lead Corbin around, you couldn’t have planned that any better…stalker!

  2. November 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    That is awesome man!!!

  3. jen
    November 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Miso happy for you…

  4. Bobby
    November 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Your best Post yet, if only because you had so many pictures of Linsey. New rule, you have to include one picture of Linsey with every post. Hey, you think you could get her to come to our Thanksgiving Dinner? I’ll pay for her flight, and her husbands too…but Madison has to stay back in Montana.

  5. Teri
    November 25, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Elliot, what a great day!!!! I’m excited for you 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My Top 10 of 2011 | Elliot Kawaoka - January 11, 2012

    […] haven’t heard, I escorted LC on my bike to her first ever sub 9 Ironman finish.  It was a dream come true.  Linsey even mentioned me in her blog! Do you see […]

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