The past weekend was another fun, action-packed whirlwind for my family. After moving home last week from our time at camp, I repacked the car for the annual trip to Lake Placid. This year, I was the spectator and my younger brother, Jeff Small, was the athlete. I was Psyched to watch him!!! I also had a bunch of friends competing and one of my athletes as well. A great day was in store.
This packing job took extra thought and care because we were Camping!! In a tent!! I lost my partner in crime this year ( Mary ) because two years ago our families camped out and it rained. And rained. And then, it poured. It was the "rain year" at Lake Placid and kids ended up in puddles and mothers ended up with damp pillows and mushy food. Not so good....... But! I have 3 boys and this is the perfect weekend for me to put in some good camping time to appease them.
So off we went.... I can tell you lots of stories about riding 6+ hrs with 3 boys, about setting up our campsite that was a big sand pit, the great ride around the Lake Placid course with my Maine buddies, the fun at night around the fire pit with even more Maine friends that had also converged into the Ironman town, and about visiting my little bro the day before the race... but Ironman day is long enough. So I'll just keep my report about the big day.
The wake up:
The alarm on my watch went off at 4:45. The wind was whipping outside the tent. We were scattered on the air mattresses in our sleeping bags and things were peaceful until that moment. I hoppped up, unzippppppppppped the door (it's SO long and Loud!) and snuck away down the road to the shower house to wash up a bit before getting up the family. The road was peppered with other families there with the same mission. People were stirring everywhere getting ready to head up to town. I hustled back and woke up the kids. Mark and I scrambled to find clothes and some food for the boys while we basically shoved them into the car and headed up the hill. The traffic was already thick and we just hoped we'd get there in time to park within a mile of the lake.
Mission accomplished. we pulled in behind some friends who were also camping with us. We attempted to figure out what we needed for the first few hrs while we watched the swim, and then we planned to come back for extras--the cooler of food, the chairs, the rain gear, the running/swimming clothes, and who knows what else we thought we needed for the day. We hiked through a path in the woods and crossed the street to our home base. We had a canapy tent set up on the hill at Hot Corneer so we could have a place for our bags etc and also, refuge if it rained.
While we walked there we realized our mistake...they were in the process of putting the final touches on the fences that went around the bike and run routes...once they're up- you're stuck. You cant' get through. you have to go AROUND!! Which, is not a short walk. And it's even LONGER, with all our gear. Shoot. We had to go back to the car and get more junk......
Finally.. we were settled and ready for the action. The boys were fine so far. My brother appeared and seemed pretty calm. My parents were there, my sister in law, my friends Nat and Mary-Lou, Bob, Mike, Meg, Kurt, Nate and his wife Megan, Stacy and Erin. I had many many nostalgic moments this past weekend. And watching them don their wetsuits was one of them. I remember that so well... I remember thinking, " it's here. The time has come. I need to put all doubts aside and go do my job. There's no turning back. " I truly remember the nerves and the excitement---and I watched them and got goosebumps.
The athletes walked off and we scrambled to find the ideal spot on the lake. It was Crowded!! I grabbed one of the kid's hands and wiggled my way through the crowds. I maneuvered through people and found a spot on a bit of hill with a view of the start.The kids were a little unsettled and unhappy when it started to rain...and they still hadn't had breakfast. I worked at finding patience because I really really really didn't have it in me to deal with sibling bickering or boredom or hunger. I was there to watch the Ironman! Didn't they get it! Forget about the fact that they had been up too late for two nights, slept in a tent in hot/ humid conditions and had been shuffled around doing grown up things for two days. See---they were being troupers and I knew it. They had a little meltdowns here and there but this is where the spectating challenges began. I was NOT racing..I did want the family there with me, so I had to buck up and handle it.
15 minutes to go... I watched the swimmers work their way into place. 10 minutes to go..BAM...the Pro Field was off. At that point, I began seeing the scuba divers. They were lined in front of the swimmers with their hands in the air, holding them back. And then, all together, they submerged. Then, at the exact same moment, the kayakers pulled out into the lake... the countdown began.
BANG! They were off.
The hair on my arms stood up and I had goosebumps.
It was a sign...