Part One. I had to split it into two parts. It’s still long. Thank you if you read the whole thing.
Where do I even start?
Let’s go back approximately 12 months. Mr. Neon told me he wanted to do an Ironman in 2016. We just had to pick one. He gave me two options. Louisville or Boulder? Kentucky or Colorado? October or August? Of course, I picked Boulder. Colorado in the summer?! Sign me up!
Hindsight being 20/20, with the exception of the altitude, Boulder was the better choice. It was right before school started. The peak of training happened in the summer when Mr. Neon was off work. It was in Colorado and only an 8 hour drive, instead of a 12 hour drive.
So let’s get to the sherpa report…
Checking in for an Ironman is a three day ordeal. We got into Boulder Wednesday evening. We checked into our airbnb. Airbnb gets two thumbs up from me. It was a million times more comfortable than a hotel. Thursday morning, Mr. Neon got up for an easy run. Then the boys, Mom, and I went out for a run. The weather was gorgeous. 70 degrees, slight cloud cover, no humidity. I kept waiting for the altitude to affect me, but it never did.
We got ready and headed to Ironman Village. I fought the urge to call it “the expo” all weekend. It’s a village, people. We got Mr. Neon checked in. Blue wristband on…Beast mode activated. Then we did some credit card damage. BASE tent = new tanks for me and Mom and more salt. Zoot tent = new tri kit for Mr. Neon. Hoka tent = new Cliftons for Mr. Neon in Ironman red, of course. Clif bar tent = fistfuls of samples into our bags. You can never have too many snacks in the sherpa bag. Ironman Merch tent = name tee, name hoodie, water bottle, and support tees for Runner Boy, Tiny Boy, me, and Mom. We explored Boulder for the rest of the afternoon.
Friday we went back to the Ironman Village to take a picture with everyone, since Mr. Neon’s parents and brother, SIL, and Nephew arrived Thursday afternoon. Mr. Neon did a short bike ride, and then he and his brother drove the bike course, while Mom, the boys, the SIL, and I went to the Celestial Seasonings factory, which was conveniently a block from our condo. I bought lots of tea! Mr. Neon and I went to dinner at the BASE house and got to rub elbows with other BASE athletes and Matt Miller and Tony Demakis. I love the BASE family…such a neat group of people.
Saturday was bag and bike drop off day. We had a bit of a hiccup when Mr. Noel got his wetsuit ready to go. Parts of it had fused to itself and it tore when he went to lay it out. Tip…don’t buy an Xterra suit. They are modestly priced and offered at deep discount for a reason. We ended up going back to the Village and buying him a sleeveless Roka suit. This ended up being a good choice, which I’ll explain in a bit. We dropped off the bike, bike gear bag, and run gear bag. And then we tried to relax. Emphasis on tried.
The alarm went off at 2:45am on Sunday. 2:45am…is that even considered morning?! We got coffee into us and some breakfast and then we headed to downtown Boulder to catch a bus up to the reservoir. Mr. Neon double checked everything, while I tried not to freak out. What my love was about to do hit me hard. I just started crying…a theme that would continue throughout the day.
Mr. Neon kissed me and headed to line up for the swim. The energy in the air was thick. This song started to play over the loud speakers and it resonated with me. A quick google revealed it to be “Go Big or Go Home” by American Authors. I haven’t stopped listening to it since. I had a hard time finding Mr. Neon in the sea of green and pink caps. I knew where he would line up, but I still couldn’t spot him. They all looked the same. I finally found him and started taking pictures for everyone waiting back at the airbnbs. I got several good ones of him going into the water. He was off. I cried some more and got many hugs from random spectators. Ironman family…I love you.
I wandered up the hill in between the swim start and the swim finish. I munched on some Nature Box chocolate waffles and updated social media. It wasn’t long before I heard Mike Reilly announce that they could see the first swimmers heading back in. I had nothing better to do, so I wandered over. About that time, Mr. Neon’s brother texted me that he, SIL, and Nephew had arrived at the reservoir. They found me and we moved over to the side of the swim finish where we could follow him through transition.
Mr. Neon had told me that he planned on a 1:30 swim. Nope, he came out of the water in 1:13. New wetsuit for the win! He’s such a strong swimmer. I completely missed him until he was right in front of me. He gave me a big grin and stuck his tongue out at me. He was having fun! YAY! His number one goal for the day was to have fun and enjoy every moment. He made his way through transition. We ran around the side to wait for him to come out of the tent into the sunscreen station. It was cute watching my seven-months-pregnant SIL run between areas. We watched him go off onto his bike! See you in six hours, my love!
We had to take a bus back down to the second transition. I missed seeing him on the bike, but Mom and the boys got to see him at mile 20. I made it back up to the condo and managed to take a fitful 45 minute nap. Once he hit mile 65 on the tracking, we headed back downtown to find some lunch and figure out the best place to watch him on the run.
My heart fluttered a little bit when I saw him hit mile 107 on the bike tracker. I was going to get to see him soon! We are one of those disgusting couples who doesn’t go more than a couple of hours without at least texting or sending each other silly snapchats. Six hours is a long time. I was also really excited for him because he was going to hit his goal of a 6 hour bike.
He came into transition smiling. Bike was a 5:53 split! 19.02mph! I watched him dismount and his legs looked strong. Tiny Boy and I were standing on the “hot corner” and ran around to the other side of transition to find Mom and Runner Boy. They said they saw him cross the bridge, and he had grinned at them again. Operation Have Fun appeared to still be in full swing.
In another ten minutes, he came running past us. He was running and looking very strong. I was impressed. Then came the sinking feeling that I wouldn’t see him for another 10 miles. We had originally thought of bringing my bike down with us, but then decided against it. I tried to make my way down to the flux capacitor part of the course, but I would have had to run much farther than I thought. We made a camp site on the lawn near the high school and waited. When he came back through, I got a big hug and was able to run next to him for a few minutes. It was really the first time I’d gotten to talk with him all day. He said he was feeling really good. Nutrition was good, liquid intake was good. He said he was tired and would probably do some walking/slowing down, but he was still moving forward.
Mile 13 – Photo credit SIL.
One of my ugly cry moments. My SIL’s reaction to me crying was to laugh and take pictures. Stinker!
We saw him again at the halfway point. Then began the long wait until mile 23 when he would make his way back to us. His pace really slowed on the tracker, and I started getting anxious. Eventually, I started walking backwards on the course, hoping to find him. I finally did and he looked exhausted. Still smiling, still in good spirits, but darn tired. I walked with him a bit, kissed him, hugged him, and told him we would see him REALLY soon at the finish line where he would become an IRONMAN.
Mile 23. Tired Mr. Neon.
We got to the finish line and I was a bundle of nerves. I kept checking my tracker. I figured it would take him about 20-30 minutes to make it from the last check point to the finish line. It ended up taking him 45 minutes. My BIL started walking backwards away from the finish chute, found him walking, and texted me that he was on his way. I watched my love cross the finish line and become an Ironman. Mike Reilly announced him and then we made our way around the tents to where we could get to him.
I saw him being led by a volunteer and I knew something was up. I hollered at him. He waved at me and pointed at the medical and said, “I’m going to medical.” And that was the last time I got to talk with him for two hours.
Part two coming soon!